Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crackers - Developing my signature style

Cooking can be very creative. In fact, it's my favorite "Right Brain" exercise. Crackers are one of my favorites. Easy to eat anytime, easy to carry around, great grab-&-go food that's healthy, too. Most important, they are super easy to make!
Crackers by CD, Bowl by Dale Larson
David (Nittmann) went over to Tom Wirsing's house a few weeks ago, and took a bowl of my home-made crackers to supplement the beer drinking they planned to do. I guess the crackers were good; Tom asked for the recipe (must have been the beer....). My first thought was, "I didn't exactly follow 'the' recipe".

The next thought was, "Amazing how similar cooking is to woodturning!"

I just got home from a trip to the San Diego Woodturners club to demonstrate and teach my style of woodturning. (click here for the pictures posted on Facebook) In the demo, I went through my processes, shared all of my "secrets", and completed 2 of my signature pieces. At the Hands-on Workshops in the days following the demo, I guided the participants through making a copy of my signature Finial Box. Kind of like following a recipe. Mostly, the boxes came out looking a lot like mine.

Just like the first time I made Elana Amsterdam's Sesame Crackers! The next time I made crackers, I started experimenting. I thought the almond flour had enough oil, so I subbed whey or yogurt for the oil. Flour is flour (more or less), so I've subbed all different kinds of flours for the almond in the original recipe. Maca powder, chia flour, cocoa powder, all count as "flour", too. (Grain flour, I found out, needs a lot more liquid than nut flour.)

Seeds are seeds, so hemp, sunflower, pumpkin seeds, or ground nuts, sub for the sesame seeds. Shredded coconut works as a sub for the seeds, too. Combinations of seeds, coconut, nuts, also work.

Pretty soon, I have crackers in my own style! Just like the next Finial Boxes that my hands-on students will make! Isn't Woodturning wonderful?

Here's Elana's original recipe:

Sesame Crackers

  1. In a large bowl, stir almond flour, salt, sesame seeds, eggs and oil until well blended
  2. Separate dough into two halves
  3. Line two large (12 x 16) stainless steel baking sheets with parchment paper
  4. Place one half of the dough in the center of each lined sheet
  5. Cut another piece of parchment paper and place it over one of the balls of dough
  6. Roll dough out between the two pieces of parchment paper, until it is ⅛ inch thick and covers the entire baking sheet; remove top paper and repeat process with the other piece of dough
  7. Cut the dough with a knife or pizza cutter into 2 inch squares
  8. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown
  9. Cool and serve
Makes 96 crackers

Here's what Tom and David had with their beers:
  • 5 cups organic blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup organic sprouted chia flour
  • 1/2 cup organic Maca powder (from Whole Foods)
  • 2 teaspoons celtic sea salt (from Whole Foods)
  • 1 or 2 cups organic sesame seeds, white and black mixed (from Whole Foods)
  • 4 eggs (pasture raised, from a local organic/biodynamic farm)
  • 1/4 cup raw goat whey (from making cheese)
1. Mix dry ingredients well with a wire whisk
2. In a 2 cup glass measuring cup, whisk the eggs and liquid of choice. Mix wet into dry. The dough will be very stiff. If it is soft enough to roll easily, it will be too sticky to release from the paper easily. I find it easier to add flour if it's too sticky than to add liquid if it's too stiff. Based on my experience.
3. Roll out between parchment paper to 1/16 - 1/8 in thickness. With crackers, "less is more"- more crackers, that is!
4. Cut with pizza cutter to fit baking sheet & cut into squares
5. Bake at 325º for 7 - 12 minutes, or until "done". Crispy or soft, your choice. Time depends on your oven, your baking sheet, how "done" you want them, and how thick your crackers are. If you don't want to be paying so much attention to the oven, baking at 300º allows for one more cut at the lathe before running back into the kitchen (it's more forgiving of time to cook at lower temp)

Here's what I made last night:
  • 5 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c chia flour
  • 1/2 c organic cocoa powder (Whole Foods)
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 c sesame seeds
  • 1 c finely shredded organic coconut
  • 1 tablespoon organic dried vanilla powder (heavenly!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup whey
Directions are the same.

And it doesn't stop there!

For Hummus crackers: add a teaspoon or 2 of garlic powder, some lemon juice as part of the liquid, and use garbanzo flour.

Try adding cinnamon for a graham-cracker-like flavor

Corn flour with chile powder and cayenne = hot & spicy!

Add spices in your choice of intensity: Curry powder, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Chives (dried)

Other flours that I've tried: Amaranth, Quinoa, Rice, Buckwheat. Ground pecans, walnuts, other nuts can be used as flour. So can nut butters.

Sugar is an option, of course. We're trying to cut down on sugar, so I don't add any.

This cracker non-specific-recipe makes a great gluten and grain free pie crust, too.

Go ahead! Make your own Signature Crackers! And then turn a bowl to put them in.
Have fun!